UMW steering forward

United Methodist Women from the Detroit and West Michigan Conferences have been coming together in places like the Saginaw Bay District Retreat in April, 2017. Pictured here, left to right, are some friends: Linda Darrow (West Michigan UMW President), Ruth Sutton, Waltha Leavitt, Micki Phelps (Detroit Conference UMC President), Diana Spitnale Miller, Pat Engelbrecht, and Julia Hulka. ~Facebook photo/Diana Spitnale Miller

Like other United Methodist organizations in Michigan, the UMW are working toward union.

Senior Editor-Writer, Michigan Area

United Methodist Women are in ministry all around the globe, agents of faith, hope and love in action.

Here in the Michigan Area, nearly 15,500 women are active in UMW. For years the women of the west and the women of the east have been organized in the well-tuned way that all United Methodist Women are organized. During that time west and east operated similarly but separately. In January of this year, a new era began to come into focus.

Linda Schramm (right -DAC) and Linda Darrow (left -WMC) attended a 150th Legacy Workshop/training at Scarett Bennett, Nashville, early Feb., 2017. ~photo courtesy Linda Darrow

Linda Darrow, current President of the West Michigan UMW, explains: “We started having conversations last January when some of us were attending the UMW National Leadership Days training in Charlotte, North Carolina.”

Using established guidelines for the merging of annual conference UMW organizations, a Steering Committee was formed comprised of Executive Committee members from both conferences: Presidents, Vice Presidents, Secretaries, Treasurers and Chairpersons of Nominations. National officers – two Directors from the Detroit Conference and a National Advisory Council member from West Michigan Conference — were also included on the Steering Committee.

A small group was tasked with working on Standing Rules, “lining up the two versions by going through them with a fine-tooth comb,” Darrow says. Blending followed and a working draft of Standing Rules was passed along for review by the Steering Committee, which met for the first time in May 2017.

Next, the “big white tent” became the scene of a historic gathering of all Michigan United Methodist Women at Annual Conference held in Acme on June 2nd. There was 140 women present and, “It was great!” Linda noted.

The focus of the meeting included points of interest for all. First, the 150th Anniversary of United Methodist Women to be celebrated in 2019 and a Legacy Fund Challenge aimed at raising $60 million. Also, information about the Global Assembly in Columbus, OH set for May 18-20, 2018. The information was made available to others at a joint display.

The Steering Committee met for a second time later in June. Communications Coordinators were included and an official communication piece was written that was approved by Steering Committee members. Click here to read the official statement.

In summary:

The Detroit Conference UMW welcomed then new Bishop David Bard to their Annual Meeting in Marquette, October 2016. ~mic photo/Paul Donelson

  • UMW Nominations Committees will create a 2018 slate of officers for both West Michigan and Detroit conferences and all 12 districts;
  • Each conference will hold an Annual Meeting in fall of 2017 to elect officers and approve a budget;
  • During 2018 district functions will take place in all 12 districts through summer;
  • In spring 2018 organization – nominations, standing rules, and budget-building– will begin on a nine-district plan;
  • Nine districts will hold Annual Meetings in the fall of 2018;
  • A combined Conference UMW Annual Meeting will first take place in October, 2018;
  • Conference and District UMWs will officially begin as new entities when the Michigan Conference launches January 1, 2019;
  • Mission u will continue in its present format in summer/fall of 2018 and 2019.

Marchelle (Micki) Phelps, President of the Detroit Conference UMW, remarks, “We are moving forward and we are excited about it. We believe we are only going to get stronger.” Linda Darrow agrees, saying, “There should be many new opportunities from coming together; a broader base of finances and resources.” She cites the Keep Making Peace event as “a great example of how the two conference UMWs have worked together already for many years.”

Phelps concludes, “We have a lot of work to do. I feel that every moment will be a fresh beginning.”

Over the next two years the Detroit and West Michigan Conference United Methodist Women will steer forward in order to live into the global theme, “The Power of Bold,” together.



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